Here’s a couple of new arrivals to tide you over the Easter season. No digital photo for your eyes today as the light has been virtually non-existent in this near-zero blast of wet and greyness that invadeth our Nordic climes at time of writing. Old friend Clive Scruton used to be a semi-regular correspondent with me many years ago when he bought some of my small press comics. He sent me his Kanalkrank record (CENTRE OF WOOD C.o.W. 003)… “I’ve finally got something I can send you to thank you for all the brain fun and pleasure your books have given me,” writes Clive, in his usual generous style. “I’ve been quietly recording my lofi-wired-plank-accidents!” It seems that after hearing some samples of these experiments lodged in myspace, the Italian label Centre Of Wood thought fit to issue this CDR of them. It’s in a brown card envelope tied up with string. I have at least one similar CD from the Ukraine where string plays a prominent role in the packaging, and Dave Knott in Seattle is one other who has experimented with wired planks (although judging by what I hear on the disc, Clive is actually just referring to his gtr and FX setup) but guess what? While it won’t turn the home-recording world on its head, Clive’s CD is a little gem of imaginative ambient electronics and process music that doesn’t outstay its welcome, unlike a lot of more ‘professional’ works that blight my head-space on such a regular basis. Not half bad!
Another name from my past is Ben Young, a gregarious American fellow with whom I once went on a short jaunt to Amsterdam so we could hear and meet Dr Eugene Chadbourne playing there. “My best to the bartenders of Elephant and Castle”, writes Ben, in a penned salutation attached to his 3-page press release. I have no idea what he means by this. The area of South London to which he refers has some way to go before its drinking establishments are blessed by the presence of ‘bartenders’. Nonetheless, Ben continues to run Old Gold Records and release underground and marginal far-out music of all stripe. Four recent CDRs have emerged from said label. Dirtbrain have recorded The Dog with the Chicken Leg in His Mouth…which is nine tracks of amateurish home-stew blat featuring much clumsy percussion, recorders, and inept string work of all sorts; these single-mic home recordings won’t give Valley Of Ashes any sleepless nights. Stewart Voegtlin and Marshall Avet have Lucky Waffles, a record which is an utterly perplexing mix of saxophone playing and aimless percussion combined with odd ambient recordings; the strangeness of this artifact may derive from the fact that it was recorded in an empty warehouse, wherein the artistes aimed for a ‘jazz-musique concrete feel’ and recorded it in ‘lo-fi confuse-o-rama’. Confusion is right; you won’t know where to put yourself as you spin this blarting oddity and succumb to its acoustical conundrums.
Zandosis have unleashed Nuclear Winter, a 2005 recording which apparently emerged from a moment of personal crisis on the part of those involved, and was performed in the cold before an audience of one girl. As a reward, they received one kiss. Which nameless, exiled souls were creating this skittery, alienated, improvised disjunctiveness? We don’t know; ‘Creeping, crystallised sound evoked from the hard cement floor’ is all they can tell us. This one could be something of a grower; it has some sense of rawness and import which you won’t find among the more ‘polite’ end of the acoustic-improv spectrum. Sometimes good art can arise from painful situations, no? Lastly, we have dwm-tg, a collection of short duo recordings made by Dale W Miller and Tony Gordon in Brooklyn in 2005. Their instruments are bass guitar and drum kit, and while this record ain’t exactly Lightning Bolt or Ascension, the duo do achieve a fairly diverting dark intensity and explosive collisions on some of their paired moments. “We are still as you see determined to age as disgracefully as possible,” reports Ben. “Hope you enjoy the carnage anyway”.